Death—Is It Really the End?

kakvoezhivotaIN February 1987, an 85-year-old man chose to discontinue the regular kidney dialysis that had been keeping him alive. His death came peacefully at home two weeks later, with his only son at his side.

That final time together provided an opportunity for the two to reflect on a subject they had discussed before: Is life possible beyond the grave? The father, a college-educated man, was a skeptic. He had been influenced by the teaching of evolution and was repelled by the hypocrisy of religion. He called himself an agnostic—believing that the existence of God is unknowable.

The son, desiring to provide comfort and hope, showed his father why life beyond the grave is a real possibility. As death approached, the father acknowledged that living again, enjoying another life with renewed vigor and health, would be desirable.

Comfort in the Face of Death

Most people, if not all, would want to live again if they could do so with restored health and vigor in a world where peace prevails. Humans are unlike animals, which are described in the Bible as “unreasoning,” or as “creatures of instinct.” (2 Peter 2:12; New International Version) We bury our dead. We contemplate the future. We do not want to grow old, get sick, and die. Yet, these are realities of human experience.

We are sobered by death’s approach, whether our own or that of a loved one. The Bible, however, encourages us to face death courageously, saying: “Better is it to go to the house of mourning than to go to the banquet house.” It adds: “The one alive should take it to his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Why take death to heart, or reflect deeply on the matter?

For one reason, we have an inborn desire to live and enjoy life in peace and security. Death—nonexistence—is inherently repulsive. It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to accept. The Bible explains why: “[God] has put eternity into man’s mind,” or “in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Revised Standard Version) We want to live—not die. Think about it: Would that desire be so strong if it were not our Creator’s original purpose for us to live forever? Is another life in endless health and happiness possible?

Reason to Believe

Last year, AARP The Magazine, published by the American Association of Retired Persons, featured the article “Life After Death.” Interviews of scores of people who were over 50 years of age revealed that “nearly three quarters (73 percent) agree with the statement ‘I believe in life after death.’” On the other hand, the magazine reported that nearly one quarter agreed with the statement “I believe that when I die, that’s the end.” But is that what people really want to believe?

In the same article, Tom, a Catholic from New York, was reported to have said: “They preach life after death, you know? I just say, hey, people preach a lot of stuff. You just gotta make up your own mind about things. I go to Mass. I live my life like there’s life after  death, but I don’t believe there is. If it’s true, well, hey, it’s a plus.”

Like Tom, many are skeptical—as was the father mentioned at the outset, who would often say to his son, “Belief in religion is OK for those who can’t handle the reality of death.” Yet, as he and other skeptics have had to acknowledge, belief in an all-powerful Creator provides an answer to otherwise incomprehensible miracles.

For example, just three weeks after conception, the human embryo begins to form brain cells. These cells multiply in spurts, at times up to a quarter of a million of them a minute! Nine months later a baby is born with a brain that has a miraculous capacity to learn. Molecular biologist James Watson called the human brain “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.”

When considering marvels like this, are you—as most are—filled with awe? Have such reflections helped you arrive at an answer to the question raised by a man long ago: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?” That man answered God confidently: “You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:14, 15. Isnt that beautiful? The hands of God even have a yearning to resurrect all the people waiting in the grave.

Surely we would do well to consider evidence that provides reason for us to believe that life after death is possible.

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Matthew 9:24-26 Jesus said: “Leave the place, for the little girl did not die but is sleeping.” At this they began to laugh at him scornfully. As soon as the crowd had been sent outside, he went in and took hold of her hand, and the little girl got up. Of course, the talk about this spread into all that region.

Life Beyond the Grave—It Is Possible!

In a movie several years ago, a young man was shown standing at a dear one’s grave. “Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life,” he said. Then, as the camera focused briefly on the grave marker, he added: “I sure wish it wasn’t.”

This sentiment expresses the feeling of billions who have lost a loved one in death. What a horrible enemy! Yet, God promises: “As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) But why, in spite of an apparent capacity to live indefinitely, do we die? How is death to be removed?

Why We Grow Old and Die

Regarding Jehovah God, our Creator, the Bible says: “Perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy  32:4; Psalm 83:18) The first man, Adam, was created perfect, and he had the potential of living forever in Eden, the earthly Paradise garden in which God placed him. (Genesis 2:7-9) Why did Adam lose that Paradise home and grow old and die?

Simply stated: Adam failed to obey the command not to eat fruit from a particular tree. God had clearly warned Adam of the penalty for doing so, saying: “You will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) Adam joined his wife, Eve, in disobeying that command, so God evicted them from Eden. The reason for God’s prompt action is significant. The Bible states: “That Adam may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the garden’s tree of life and eat and live forever.”—Genesis 3:1-6, 22.

Adam and Eve died for their disobedience, but why do all their descendants grow old and die? Because they inherited sin from Adam, and sin has resulted in the imperfection and death of every one of his offspring. The Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.

Future Life Made Possible

As we read earlier, “death is to be brought to nothing”—yes, removed forever! (1 Corinthians 15:26) But how? The Bible explains this, saying: “Through one act of justification the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life.” (Romans 5:18) What is it that makes possible a righteous standing with God and the enjoying of everlasting life?

It is the provision for canceling the sin that all humans inherited from the first man, Adam. The Bible explains: “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Of this provision for declaring people righteous for life, Jesus said: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.

Think about the depth of God’s love for us, as well as that of his Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered so greatly in our behalf. The apostle Paul wrote: “The Son of God . . . loved me and handed himself over for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Why, though, is Jesus the only human who could “give his soul [as] a ransom” for us and thereby save us from the deadly consequences of sin?—Matthew 20:28.

Jesus is the only one who could give his soul as a ransom because he is the only human who did not inherit sin from the first man, Adam. Why so? Because the life of Jesus was miraculously transferred from heaven to the womb of Mary, who was a virgin. So, as an angel told Mary, her son was “holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:34, 35) That is why Jesus is called “the last Adam” and why he did not inherit sin from “the first man Adam.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) As a sinless human, Jesus could thus give himself as “a corresponding ransom”—his life corresponded to or was the  equivalent of the once perfect, sinless, first man.—1 Timothy 2:6.

By this provision of the ransom, God made it possible for us to receive what the first Adam lost, namely, everlasting life in an earthly paradise.To receive this blessing, however, the vast majority of mankind will have to live again. What a marvelous prospect! But is that just too good to be true?

Basis for Belief

Should it be too difficult to believe that Jehovah God, who created life, has the power to re-create a person who had once been alive? Consider the ability to conceive—or become pregnant—which God made possible for the first woman. “Adam had intercourse with Eve,” and about nine months later, a fully-formed small replica of them was delivered into the world. (Genesis 4:1) What went on inside Eve’s womb to create all the parts of the baby and assemble them is still described as a miracle, beyond full human comprehension!—Psalm 139:13-16.

Birth is commonly taken for granted, since it is repeated hundreds of thousands of times a day. However, bringing back to life one who has lived before is by many still considered to be unbelievable. When Jesus told people who were mourning the death of a young girl to stop weeping, “they began to laugh scornfully at him” because they knew she had died. But Jesus spoke to the dead girl, saying: “‘Get up!’ And immediately the maiden rose and began walking.” We are told: “At once [those present] were beside themselves with great ecstasy.”—Mark 5:39-43; Luke 8:51-56.

When Jesus asked that the tomb of his dear friend Lazarus be unsealed, Martha, a sister of Lazarus, protested: “By now he must smell, for it is four days.” What rejoicing there was, however, when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life! (John 11:38-44) Many became acquainted with Jesus’ miracles. When John the Baptist was in prison, John’s disciples reported to him about Jesus’ activity, saying: “The dead are being raised up.”—Luke 7:22.

Another Life by Resurrection

Why did Jesus perform such miracles, in view of the fact that later those resurrected got sick and died again? He did so because it proved that what the first Adam had lost—everlasting life on a paradise earth—can and will be restored. The resurrections Jesus performed demonstrated how millions of humans will eventually “possess the earth” and “will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29.

Happily, we can be among those with that grand prospect of living forever if we practice “godly devotion.” Such devotion, the Bible says, “holds promise not only for this life but for the life to come.” That “life to come” is also called “the life which is life indeed” and “the real life.”—1 Timothy 4:8; 6:19; The New English Bible.

Let us consider just what this real life, the life to come in a righteous new world, will be like.

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In Paradise, the dead will rise and be reunited with their loved ones

In Paradise, the dead will rise and be reunited with their loved ones

Life in a Restored Paradise

JESUS confidently spoke of living again, and he told his disciples that this was a certainty. “In the re-creation,” he said, “[you] will inherit everlasting life.” What did Jesus mean by “in the re-creation”?—Matthew 19:25-29.

According to the parallel account by the Bible writer Luke, Jesus said that “in the coming system of things,” his disciples would receive “everlasting life.” (Luke 18:28-30) Why does the Bible speak of “the coming system of things” as being the same as “the re-creation”?

Evidently it was to emphasize that Jehovah God will see to it that his original purpose for mankind to enjoy eternal life in an earthly paradise will be realized. Humans will be restored to the perfection enjoyed by Adam and Eve prior to their sin. So “in the coming system of things,” there will be “the re-creation” of the Paradise conditions that existed in the garden of Eden.

How Paradise Will Be Restored

While on earth, Jesus taught his followers to pray for the very means that God will use to restore righteous conditions earth wide. Jesus said we should pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:10) God appointed his Son to be the Ruler of this Kingdom, which will carry out God’s purpose that Paradise conditions be enjoyed everywhere on earth.

Paradise, which was lost through the disobedience of the first human pair, will be restored

Paradise, which was lost through the disobedience of the first human pair, will be restored

Regarding the One whom God has appointed as Ruler, the Bible said: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called . . . Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) Yet, how will this government under such “princely rule” carry out the will of God?

The Bible answers, saying: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [the princely rule] that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.

Let us consider the conditions that will prevail on earth in the restored Paradise, yes, “in the re-creation,” when God’s Son exercises his power as the ‘princely Ruler’ in his Father’s Kingdom.

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What Life in Paradise Will Be Like

Resurrection of the dead

“The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.

“There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15.102008323_univ_cnt_2_sm

No more sickness, old age, or death

“At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness.”—Isaiah 35:5, 6.

“God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.

Plenty of good things to eat

“The earth itself will certainly give its produce; God, our God, will bless us.”—Psalm 67:6.

“There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:16.

Suitable homes and enjoyable work for all

“They will certainly build houses and have occupancy, and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.”—Isaiah 65:21, 22.

 No more crime, violence, or war

“As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth.”—Proverbs 2:22.

“They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:4.

Freedom from fear, and peace everywhere

“They will actually dwell in security, with no one to make them tremble.”—Ezekiel 34:28.

“They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.

What a pleasure it will be to live when such conditions prevail everywhere on earth, when everyone loves God and shows love for fellow humans! (Matthew 22:37-39) You can be sure that all the promises of God will then be fulfilled. “I have even spoken it,” God says, “I shall also do it.”—Isaiah 46:11.

There are many things you may yet need to learn about Jehovah God and his promised new world. For example, what evidence is there that this new world is near at hand? How will God’s Kingdom replace all the governments of the earth? And what events will lead up to its doing so?

Man’s many years of yearning for a new world of righteousness are almost over. For the vast majority of humans who have died, death is not the end. Another life is not merely possible—it is God’s will. There truly is life beyond the grave! Yes, it is “the real life,” the one “which is to come.”—1 Timothy 4:8; 6:19.

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